This past weekend’s match against Toronto FC was the 19th match for Orlando City this season in MLS play out of the 34 it will play. The season has certainly had its ups and downs with injuries, national team call-ups, and, most recently, a new head coach.
With the Lions currently sitting in the ninth spot in the East on 22 points (7-11-1), although with two games in hand on many of the teams above them, it seems an appropriate time to take a step back and review the the first 17 matches of the season. The first part of the review was to reach out to my fellow contributors here at The Mane Land and ask for everyone's top three players from the first half of the season. In preparing to write this article, I wanted to see just how close our memories and personal feelings lined up with the average grades for each individual player, at least the top three.
There is a pretty clear consensus between the staff in regards to the trinity for the first half of the season, with a clear winner for the player who has been “the best.” By far, Yoshimar Yotún was the name first sent to answer the somewhat tricky question, followed closely by Dom Dwyer.
Honestly, it is pretty evenly split between the two in regards to whose name is dropped first. The third player was no surprise to me at all, Chris Mueller, and his work rate on the pitch. Honorable mention goes out to, and these may be a bit controversial, Will Johnson, Cristian Higuita, and Mohamed El-Munir, who all received at least one mention during the discussion between contributors in the buildup to all of this.
Now let’s take a critical look at how each player ranked through 17 matches. The grades were pulled from each match’s player grades and Man of the Match piece, run through an extremely complex algorithm (Excel spreadsheet), and formulaic data is spit out at the other end, which leaves no doubt (well, actually, the grades and MotM pieces are completed by a number of very different individuals, all with varying points of view and opinions). Here is how the players have ranked, along with Man of the Match picks from our staff writers as well as how the readers voted (if differently) in the attached polls from each piece:
- Yoshimar Yotun - 6.85 with 1 MotM from the staff and 1 MotM from the readers
- Dom Dwyer - 6.27 with 2 MotM from staff
- Lamine Sane - 6.27 with 1 MotM from the readers
- Mohamed El-Munir - 6.13 with 2 MotM from the staff
- Tony Rocha - 6.10 with 1 MotM
- Chris Mueller - 6.06 with 2 MotM from the staff and 1 MotM from the readers
- Joe Bendik - 6.03 with 1 MotM from the staff
- Scott Sutter - 6.00 with 1 MotM from the staff
- Richie Laryea - 5.88 with 1 MotM
- Cristian Higuita - 5.86 with 2 MotM from the staff and 1 MotM from the readers
- Justin Meram - 5.84 with 1 MotM from the staff
- Sacha Kljestan - 5.80 with 1 MotM from the staff
- Amro Tarek - 5.77 with 1 MotM from the staff and 2 MotM from readers
- Josue Colman - 5.72 with 1 MotM from the staff and 1 MotM from the readers
- Jonathan Spector - 5.71
- Oriol Rosell - 5.70
- Will Johnson - 5.67
- Cam Lindley - 5.67
- Chris Schuler - 5.67
- RJ Allen - 5.33
- Jose Villareal - 5.00
- Stefano Pinho - 4.83
- Victor “PC” Giro - 4.5
- Donny Toia - 4.5
Current first-team players that did not receive a grade during the first 17 matches:
Earl Edwards Jr., Dillon Powers, Pierre Da Silva, Adam Grinwis, Shane O’Neill (first availability was match 19 versus Toronto FC), Mason Stajduhar (on season-ending injury list, though his cancer is in remission). Da Silva and Grinwis did not appear in a match this season and Edwards’ first league game was Saturday.
Clearly, based on grades, Yoshi has been the highest graded player on the pitch for the Lions for the first half of the season. Next is a tie between two completely different players, Dwyer and Sane. After that is El-Munir, followed by Rocha, and then Mueller, Bendik, Sutter, Laryea, and then Higuita, rounding out the top 10. Players with the most MotM honors are Mueller and Higuita, followed by Tarek, El-Munir, Colmán, and Dwyer. Notably missing from both lists are some of the Lions’ big off-season acquisitions like Meram and Kljestan, though each has notched one MotM honor during the first half of the season.
Anything can happen as we move forward this season. Head Coach James O’Connor has already shown us all just how unpredictable he can be with player choices. With the Lions looking to make a deep run into the U.S. Open Cup, and staring at the possibility of making it back into the playoff picture, and the delicate balance of accomplishing both, I am not sure anything would be shocking. Wait, the secondary transfer window just opened, didn’t it?
Just in case you are wondering, WhoScored.com, a great site to look at the statistical grading that takes place, has the top five Lions as El-Munir, Yotún, Dwyer, Sane, and Kljestan. I would say matching four out of five isn’t bad at all.